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February 17, 1993

MICROSOFT’s “BETTER THAN UNIX” WINDOWS NEW TECHNOLOGY IS DEC’s WHITE HOPE TO GET THE COMPANY BACK ON TRACK

By CBR Staff Writer

Jesse Lipcon, father of the MicroVAX and the DECcie now charged with running Digital Equipment Corp’s NT interests, characterises NT as the Great White Hope around DEC. A lot, if not most of [DEC’s] growth long-term will come from NT, he says, and it will drive DEC’s resurgence. The fact that DEC plucked him out of its largest and most profitable systems business and split that down the middle so he could run the NT operation is proof that DEC expects significant results out of NT. What Lipcon means by long-term is two or three years, which is what he reckons it took the Macintosh to amass the necessary applications and catch on. Overly euphoric notions inside the company that it’s going to move a million units in the next year ain’t gonna happen, he said. One of the attractions for DEC of course is the thought of volumes without the usual investment. With Microsoft in the deal, DEC doesn’t have to do everything itself. Lipcon claims that what is enticing users to NT is the notion of having one environment from the desktop up through the data centre. Lipcon reckons DEC will have this desktop-to-data centre panoply by first quarter of 1994, as long as users are happy with uniprocessors. Symmetric multiprocessor machines will take until the fourth quarter. NT, he says, is particularly attractive to the banking and insurance industries. It is also making Unix zealots lose their religion. CERN, the Centre for European Research into Nucleonics, for instance, is ready to swing over to NT and abandon its Unix boxes because the administration side there is awash with incompatible MS-DOS personal computers and Macs and if the tecchies give up their Unix stations then everybody will be on the same system. Sequoia 2000, the consortium of the US universities led by the University of California at Berkeley and the cultural successor to the Athena project, might as well be described as the Vatican of Unix, he says. It’s in the process of shifting over to NT because it’s a better base, he said, for its massive global database. It admits however that Berkeley isn’t exactly running its payroll on it. Nonetheless Lipcon claims that NT is a better quality operating system than Unix. A clean design versus an evolved hodge-podge that in no way is ever going to be unified. The first task is to get the applications for NT-on-Alpha. DEC is out trying to entice the top 100 personal computer applications over as well as VMS, Open Software Foundation and Solaris programs, maybe 1,000 vendors in all. It has to prove, for instance, that the task is a simple recompile.

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